Western Hills High School sophomore Jillian Jacobs recently was awarded a $1,000 scholarship for her winning entry in the 30th annual Secretary of State Essay Contest.

For the contest, high school students had to write about why young people were not going to the polls to vote in elections. Jacobs was the 10th-grade winner for the statewide contest, with winners from ninth, 11th and 12th grades also receiving $1,000 scholarships.

“I feel like a lot of young voters feel like because they don’t have a lot of information about who they’re voting for and they feel like they don’t have enough information to vote at all,” Jacobs said. “If we had a good civil conversation about politics, then more people would feel more empowered to go to the polls.”

Jacobs also said in her essay that negative attack ads by candidates can discourage young people from voting.

The scholarship is open-ended and can be used for any college or university Jacobs wants to attend after high school. She intends to use the award to purchase books for her classes.

As for what college she is considering attending after high school, Jacobs has her sights set on the best.

“It’s always been my dream since I was really little to go to an Ivy League school,” she said.

In preparation for the future, Jacobs said all of the classes she is taking her junior year are going to be advanced-placement classes.

“Through this, I’m able to push myself and prepare myself for the course rigor I’m going to have in college,” she said. “It also looks good on the resume to say, ‘Look, I’ve taken all these courses.’ ”

Participating in clubs and other extracurricular activities also looks helps a college application, Jacobs said. She is a member of the Spanish Club, an officer in Spanish Honor Society and a member of the Y Club, the Kentucky United Nations Assembly and Kentucky Youth Assembly.

During her freshman and sophomore years, Jacobs played golf and participated in archery.

She said law and international relations have always interested her and she would like to get into one of those careers. As for politics, a part of her wants to get involved, but that’s still up in the air.

“I actually did consider that, but with the current political climate, I’m not really sure if that’s what I would want to go into just because I don’t want to get my name drug through the mud or anything like that,” she said. “But, I think that it would be really good to have an advocate in there (the government) and I wouldn’t want to be biased or sponsored by a ton of people. I would want to go in there and be honest and represent the people I’m representing and not just my side’s point of view.”

For now, she’s focusing on getting through high school and into her dream school — Harvard — to study law. She said she will decide if politics is in her future after doing all of that.

However, she added that she believes young people have the power to change the face of politics.

“We have the power to do that because we are the future of politics,” she said. “Once younger people start taking public office, then we’ll be able to have a more civil manner in which we conduct our talks about politics and different laws we want to be passed.”

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